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You can earn $100,000 a year in these Bay Area counties and still be ‘low-income’

In the exorbitantly expensive Bay Area, you can earn a six-figure salary and still be considered low-income.

According to the latest state eligibility requirements for affordable housing, a resident of San Francisco or San Mateo County making up to $104,400 a year has a low income. In Santa Clara County, the cut-off is $96,000. And in Alameda and Contra Costa counties, it’s $78,550.

The eye-popping figures underscore the deepening housing crisis across the region, where software engineers and service workers alike feel the squeeze of sky-high housing costs.

Last month, the state raised the eligibility limits to reflect growing incomes across California. For many affordable housing programs, the limits help determine who can apply and how much they’re expected to pay — generally around 30% of their total earnings. Experts warn that the raised caps could spell rent hikes for some low-income housing tenants already struggling to make ends meet.

“In theory, those higher rents should be affordable,” said Matt Schwartz, chief executive of the nonprofit California Housing Partnership. “But in practice, often the reason the income limits go up is not because the incomes of all the working, lower-income households are going up but because some of those lower-income households have left the region, and higher-income households are coming in.”

The limits — which increased by around 3% to 8% in the Bay Area — are set by California’s Department of Housing and Community Development and based mostly on the typical earnings for different-sized households in each of the state’s 58 counties. The more people in a home, the higher the limit.

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